Come and try out

If you're female and no longer - ahem - quite as firm as you used to be, you may be interested to know that opportunities in show biz await. At least, in Italy. Auditions are under way for roles on the popular TV series "Striscia la Notizia," which has featured shapely 20-somethings in skimpy swimwear. But that practice is ending. The producers now want women of mature years "who are spontaneous and prepared to make fun of themselves." One leading candidate for a role so far will be 83 on her next birthday.

And we're proud of the fact

You've probably heard of the respiratory virus that has been in the news around the world. But did you know that one of the countries where Sars is common has yet to report a single case? True. Population statistics in Norway show that is the last name of at least 35 families. There's even a Sars Center in Bergen, although it's devoted to marine genetics. And just last week, a new research ship, the G.O. Sars, was christened by Queen Sonja.

Surf's up, dude! San Diego beach is rated the US's best

California beaches claimed the top two spots - and Hawaii and Florida a pair of mentions each - in an annual ranking of the best places in the US to enjoy sun and surf. For its recently completed Beach Week, the Travel Channel rated strands around the world on sand and water quality, activities, nightlife, and level of relaxation. The Travel Channel's top 10 US beaches for 2003 and its comment for each, where applicable:

1. Coronado Beach, San Diego (best weekend getaway)
2. Hermosa Beach, Calif. (best beach town)
3. Moshup, Martha's Vineyard, Mass. (best for walking)
4. Myrtle Beach, S.C. (best for families)
5. Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii
6. Shi Shi Beach, Wash. (best for experiencing nature)
7. Siesta Key, Fla. (best sand)
8. South Beach, Miami (most beautiful people)
9. St. John, US Virgin Islands
10. Wailea, Maui, Hawaii

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